The Financial Diet

Many people have, at some time in their lives, gone on a diet to lose weight or to improve their health. Even if you haven’t tried dieting yourself, most likely you have seen advertisements, books, articles, and television programs offering helpful suggestions for people who are trying to develop new eating habits. Many of these same lifestyle changing tips can be used to help anyone who needs to put themselves on a financial diet due to an unanticipated change in their financial situation. A financial diet is also helpful for people who simply want to establish a savings plan for the future.

Establish a Plan

When beginning any type of lifestyle change, your chances of success are greater if you find a plan that works for you. Just as there are many types of weight loss diets, there are various methods of financial dieting. You may find that setting up a weekly or monthly budget is the best plan for you. Or, keeping a financial journal and recording all of your expenditures may help you be more successful at saving money. It is not the type of plan you choose, but rather, how committed you are to the plan that will determine your rate of success.

Educate Yourself

When dieting to lose weight, you usually assess your eating habits and make dietary changes that will help the pounds disappear. You take time to read labels, evaluate calories, and discover new, healthy, diet-friendly recipes. When you put yourself on a financial diet, you need to educate yourself and find ways to save money. You should reevaluate your insurance policies to see if you need to make changes and adjustments that can save you some money. You may need to find ways to lower utility bills by insulating your home, using energy efficient light bulbs, and make various other economical and environmentally-friendly choices. Just as with a food diet, small changes can make a significant difference.


Any time you attempt to make a lifestyle change, you need something to motivate you as you progress toward your goal. If you have put yourself on a financial diet in order to save money for a future investment, such as a home, a college fund, retirement fund, or to save up for a vacation, keep a visual image of your goal where you can see it daily. If your financial diet is more circumstantially mandatory than optional, you can keep a more positive attitude about the tight budget if you do not put yourself in the position of feeling deprived. The key to successful dieting is often “everything in moderation.” When you are on a financial diet, allow yourself a few small indulgences along the way. This will keep you from feeling deprived and make the transition to a leaner budget a little more pleasant.


When you are trying to break a bad habit, it is easier to do so if you find a good habit to replace the bad one. When you are on a shopping diet, you certainly don’t want to go to a place, such as the mall, where the temptation to spend is everywhere. Instead of spending time at the mall or at one of your favorite stores, find a place for a nature walk, engage in an exercise program, become a volunteer, find a new hobby, or take your dog for a walk.


It is always helpful to have a support system when reaching for a goal or making a lifestyle change. Sometimes, when you experience the temptation to deviate from your diet, a friend or family member can steer you away from the temptation or remind you of the importance of your goal. They might even be able to share some of their frugal living tips and financial dieting strategies with you.

This article by Veronica Bowman first appeared on The Dollar Stretcher and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.